Electronic cigarette use on the rise - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Electronic cigarette use on the rise

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

For 15 years, Lake Charles' Michael Patterson was a smoker.

"One day I got tired of not being able to breathe," Patterson said. "So, I looked into electronic cigarettes."

Today, he's a vapor; or one of the millions starting to use electronic cigarettes. Around 2.5 million people use e-cigarettes and their stories, for the most part, are similar.

"I smoked regular cigarettes for about 2 years and I started to get a really bad cough," said E'Lea Caholn, who now uses e-cigs. 

"Cigarettes started making me really sick," said Caholn's friend, Nikita Julian. "I felt like I needed something to smoke so I kept smoking cigarettes."

The cigarettes allow smokers to feel like their smoking something, but without the added negatives of traditional cigarettes. 

"There's no tar, there's no fire there's no ash," explained Robbin Halker who owns 'The Cigar Club' in Lake Charles. "There's no second hand smoke for anyone around you."

"You can get 0 nicotine but continue that habit of smoking," Halker said. "It [e-cigs] comes in different flavors from apple pie to blueberry cheesecake to regular tobacco and menthol."

As popular as the electronic cigarettes are, they're not FDA approved which worries the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC recently released a report that shows more young people are using the e-cigarettes. Local retailers say the same rules apply to the e-cigs as do any other tobacco product. 

"They must be 18 ... they are carded it's the only way they can purchase these cigarettes," said Halker.  

The same goes for Tobacco Plus and Shop Rite stores. They call themselves the "e-cig headquarters."

"We put their birthday in the register," explained Tobacco Plus Director of Operations, Susan Dorsett. "We also put them in a non-self serve position behind glass."

Though there's no evidence the e-cigs are better than traditional cigarettes, users say it feels better. 

Click here for a CDC report on e-cigarettes. 

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